Female Choreographers’ Collective

It seems a pity that female choreographers have such a small voice in the professional dance scene that a body such as the Female Choreographers’ Collective should even exist. Correct me if I am wrong, but in most other contemporary artforms, women have reached parity with, if not exceeded, the artistic accolades of their male colleagues. Why then should dance be left in the shadows?

In their upcoming event, “The Experiment”, the Collective will show 6 pieces of work: 3 male- and 3 female-choreographed, in a bid to see if there is any correlation between how a dance work is percieved and the gender of the creator. A curious idea, with the purpose of attempting to assess if there is a gender divide in dance. I find it hard to see how any conclusion will be drawn without painting with some very broad brush-strokes.

Several things come to mind when I think about the much asked question, why are there more top-flight male choreographers, particularly in the UK. On a quasi-Freudian level, most men that make it to the top in dance have endured some stigma about being the only boy in their ballet class, and develop a thick-skin and a strong jaw in the process. On a completely different scale, with fewer boys in training than girls, in an ironic effort at bringing about a level playing field, a higher proportion of boys will be indulged in their choreographic efforts. Gender-associated character traits must too play a part. Is it a case that the predominance of male choreographers in the dance world is inversely proportional to the relative numbers in training, in which case, as dance becomes a more acceptable and viable career path for men, thus the disparity will level out? The conundrum is multi-faceted, each argument supported by research and rhetoric.

Whether the Female Choreographers’ Collective will get to the bottom of this riddle remains to be seen, but the very fact that it is in existence at all is certainly one step in the right direction. The Experiment takes place on April 23 in Laban  http://www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/whats-on/events/dance-events

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7 thoughts on “Female Choreographers’ Collective

  1. Holly Noble says:

    Thanks for posting this article. I don’t think we’ll be able to get to the bottom of this issue in one event but I hope we’re moving in the right direction and will start a conversation that will throw up some answers. Im interested to see what comes out of ‘The Experiment’ but there are other areas we need to look at too, this is just a starting point.
    I agree with a lot of what your saying but as a teacher and choreographer I can say that there are far more boys now in training then ever before. So maybe, this may start to change the balance?
    Holly Noble
    Co-Founder Female Choreographers Collective

    • Yes, any conversation on the topic is a good one. Also as a teacher I can see that change, but I guess any changes that this brings about, and it must, will take a bit of time to filter through.

  2. Olwen says:

    This is an interesting question and I am very interested to see/hear the results of this experiment.

    I suspect that one could add the fact that the arts exist in what is a very paternalistic society to the reasons for the paucity of female choreographers. As well as all the reasons mentioned here, of course. This feels like it would be a lively and interesting discussion if you got a number of people in a room and asked the question! Is that perhaps the next stage of this process…?

  3. Carla Escoda says:

    The disparity is much more pronounced in the ballet world than in contemporary dance. Women have been emboldened to experiment with the creative process in modern dance – think of Martha Graham, Mary Wigman, Doris Humphrey, Hanya Holm, Pina Bausch et al. Ballet has proved to be a more misogynistic environment. There are the few female dance-makers who’ve straddled the ballet/modern worlds – Nijinska, Agnes DeMille, Twyla Tharp. And while there have always been a handful of women at the helm of ballet companies, in the role of Artistic Director, far fewer have actually dedicated themselves to choreography. Some of the smaller dance companies in the U.S., like New York Theatre Ballet, have been working hard to commission young new female choreographers on a regular basis. But the Goliaths of the ballet world tend to stick with the proven names – and they are all men.

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